Excerpted from Ginnie Springs: Cavern and Cave Diver Training, 1999.
Before enrolling in Cavern or Cave Diver training, it is important you understand that what you are about to take part in is not “just another Specialty Diver course.” To better appreciate what we mean by this, it may help to compare Cavern and Cave Diver training to a typical recreational Specialty Diver course, such as Underwater Photography.
Let’s say, for example, you enroll in an underwater photo course at your local dive center. You attend the necessary classroom and pool sessions. You make all the required open-water training dives. You even shoot and develop the required rolls of film. Odds are, no matter how well or how poorly your photos turn out, you can pretty much rest assured you will receive your Underwater Photographer card. After all, what should it matter to your instructor that you take abysmal photos—you’re still not going to hurt anyone. . .right?
In contrast, your abilities as a Cavern or Cave Diver are of paramount importance to all concerned. If you fail to master the important knowledge and skills that are essential to cavern or cave dive as safely as possible, you will present a risk to yourself, your buddies and to the fragile cave environment. This is a risk that we in the cave diving community simply cannot afford.
Unlike most recreational diving courses, both Cavern and Cave Diver training can best be characterized as intense and demanding. These are not easy courses to complete successfully, and not everyone passes on the first try. There are even some divers who will never be able to pass, under any circumstances.
You sometimes hear people say that, because the skills covered in the Cavern Diver course are so beneficial, every diver should take advantage of this training. There is an element of truth in this. The equipment streamlining, buoyancy control and propulsion skills covered in Cavern Diver training can also help you dive in a more environmentally sensitive manner around reefs and other fragile aquatic life.
For this reason, it is probably more constructive to make the primary focus of your participation in Cavern or Cave Diver training simply learning to become a better, safer diver. Acquiring a particular certification card should be a much lower priority—and something that you understand may not come automatically.
The cave diving community has a long-standing tradition of certifying only those divers who can be counted upon to pose the least possible risk to themselves, their buddies and the fragile environment we cherish. This is a list that does not include everyone. But remember: How would you feel about entering an overhead environment with another certified Cavern or Cave Diver if we just handed these cards out to any person who wanted one?